You’ve probably seen them standing road-side near intersections all winter long — Four Diamonds donation cans in hand — bundled up in their blue and white. And there are THOUSANDS of them. College kids who care, the heart and soul of the Penn State Dance Marathon, or THON, as it’s called by the party faithful — emphasis on party; 46 hours of it, in fact! Susquehanna is proud to sponsor this year’s THON, slated for Feb 17-19 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. Ashlee Garman, daughter of Susquehanna Regional Retail Executive Sheri Garman, is one of this year’s event chairs, and she gave us the scoop on THON.
Crystal: So Ashlee, what is THON?
Ashlee: The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Every year more than 15,000 student volunteers and 350+ student organizations work to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund and the fight against pediatric cancer. It allows Penn State students to provide outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Our year-round efforts culminate in a 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting dance marathon ALL for the kids!
Crystal: So when you say 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting, you mean…
Ashlee: I mean 46 hours of no sleeping and 46 hours of no sitting. And this year, I’ve been chosen to represent my dance club, the Penn State Dance Alliance, as a dancer during the event!
Crystal: That’s awesome – congratulations!
Ashlee: Thank you!
Crystal: So what makes THON unique?
Ashlee: THON is unique because it gives children battling pediatric cancer the opportunity to attend various programs and events throughout the year that allows them to experience life just like any other child. Not only does The Four Diamonds Fund provide families with financial support, but THON gives children the chance to forget about their illness and spend time playing with college students or “big kids.” THON weekend gives the children something to look forward to and is emotionally rewarding. It is here they are not seen as sick or different, they get the chance just to be a kid.
Crystal: How many people participate?
Ashlee: 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and 350+ student organizations.
Crystal: That’s HUGE! How did you first get involved with THON?
Ashlee: I started with THON as a freshman by joining a Special Interest Organization with a few friends from my residence hall. There is no way to describe the feeling in the Bryce Jordan Center during THON weekend. I was completely inspired and knew I wanted to get even more involved next year. So as a sophomore, I joined a Rules and Regulations committee and was responsible for the safety of spectators, dancers, and families during THON weekend. I also went on three canister solicitation weekends, which involves collecting funds at intersections and store fronts. This year I was given the privilege to be one of the THON Chairs, which allows me to plan and organize alternative fundraisers, inspire members of the organization, and spread awareness of the fight against pediatric cancer.
Crystal: What’s your fundraising goal?
Ashlee: My organization, Penn State Dance Alliance, raised almost $12,000 dollars last year. Our goal this year is to raise over $15,000 dollars. The overall total of THON 2011 was $9.5 million. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $78 million for The Four Diamonds Fund.
Crystal: What are you majoring in, and what do you hope to do career-wise after graduation?
Ashlee: I am an Elementary Education major with a minor in Special Education and Deafness and Hearing Studies. It is my dream to teach and make a difference in children’s lives.
Crystal: How can people reading this story support THON?
Ashlee: You can help fight childhood cancer by making a donation today! You can give online at www.thon.org or by mail by sending a check payable to “Penn State Dance Marathon” to:
PSU THON, Attn: Finance
210 HUB, University Park, PA 16802
Crystal: Thanks so much for your hard work on behalf of children across Pennsylvania, and best of luck (staying awake) for this year’s event!
Susquehanna Bank is proud to support events like THON year-round. This sponsorship will coincide with Susquehanna’s acquisition of Graystone Tower Bank, which has office locations in State College. Best of luck to the thousands of students and families participating in this year’s THON, and we look forward to serving you in Centre County in the coming months!